As a child growing up in rural Africa, I do not recall many instances where we warned about potential danger from wild animals. I suppose we never really interacted with anything that could be dangerous other than the occasional venomous snake (and we were constantly being told to wear shoes when outside, which we rarely did, so they obviously did not worry us too much!)
One thing that we did see from time to time though, were baboons. They were frequent visitors at the Bloukrans River Bridge which I wrote about in A river of cola. The warnings from my parents never to trust a baboon, and to keep the car windows closed on the rare occasions we stopped to watch them were well heeded.
I still have a very healthy respect for these animals – they can be quite vicious when threatened and are well capable of doing serious damage to a human adult. But they are also a delight to watch, mostly because they have so many habits and pleasures which are so similar to ours.
This post is a photographic tribute to this amazing species, which also goes by the name Chacma Baboon and/or Bobbejaan. The latin scholars will know them as Papio hamadryas ursinus which is a rather sophisticated name for a hairy critter with a pink behind!
I can be separated from my lunch very quickly if a troop of baboons arrives, as was the case on the day when I took the photo below! My companions were vastly amused as I gathered up my sandwiches and made a quick retreat – those warnings from my parents (many years ago) still ringing in my ears. I was taking no chances!
The fence around the day camp area was broken and the animals had been in a few times to see what they could find! All the bins in the area are specially made to prevent the baboons from being able to open them.
The baby baboons are the most amusing of all. They are incredibly inquisitive, but also rather shy of wandering too far from their mothers. Their facial expressions are just delightful!
Anyone like to suggest a caption for what this baby baboon is thinking? 🙂
(This post is part of the series on African animals that I have watched, enjoyed and photographed. For posts on other species, please use the Wildlife > Africa menu at the top of this page.)